The Battle of Gettysburg Series – By Peter Frederick Rothermel (1812-1895)

Perhaps the most impressive item of public art in the capital, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is the monumental “Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett’s Charge,” by Peter Frederick Rothermel. Its sheer size, over sixteen feet high by more than thirty-two feet wide, and its theatrical composition, make it an over-powering experience. The “Battle of Gettysburg,” is located on the...
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Blair County: Center of Transportation

Blair County was among the last counties created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. One factor which delayed the establishment of an additional county in the southern portion of central Pennsylvania was geography. The rugged, eastern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, in which Blair County was eventually located, diverted settlers to other areas. Only after the discovery of iron ore...
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That Was the Week That Was: The First Battle of Harrisburg

It is widely conceded that the major military event of summer 1861 was the First Battle of Bull Run on Sun­day, July 21. The battle lasted only one day, but it caused great humiliation and forced important changes in the North’s subsequent approach to conducting the war. The creation of the Military District of the Potomac under Gen. George B. McClellan several days later signaled a reform...
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Painting for Peer, Patron and the Public

For three centuries, Pennsylvania has en­joyed a rich and di­verse cultural heritage. The elegance of its colonial and federal architecture and furniture in Philadelphia is unrivaled, prompting architect Benjamin Latrobe in 1811 to christen the city “the Athens of the Western World.” During the opening years of the nine­teenth century, Philadelphia attracted artists and artisans from...
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An Admirable and Befitting Arrangement: The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg

After the battle, the fields looked and smelled like hell on earth. The bodies of the fallen had quickly begun to decom­pose. Where shallow graves had been dug, arms, legs, and heads were reported to have penetrat­ed the surface. In some places, hogs rooted out corpses, devouring them. The immense, ghastly campaign at Gettysburg, fought July 1 through 3, 1863, was over. As General Robert E. Lee...
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A New Birth of Freedom

President Lincoln listened patiently to Everett’s lengthy speech, noting the powerful cadence of his delivery. Then he rose, his lanky frame casting a shadow across the lectern. He reached into a pocket of his black frock coat and withdrew a single sheet of paper. He began his address with words that have since become immortal. A crowd of nearly fifteen thousand dignitaries, spectators,...
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Old Johnny’s Vision For An Industrial Society

Although Colonel John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889) was only in his thirties during the Civil War, the rank and file of his 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment fondly called him “Old Johnny.” His soldiers especially respected his ability to make the right decisions in combat and his altogether impartial and basically humane discipline. With a mind and eye trained as a civil...
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The Lincoln Train is Coming!

On Saturday morning, April 15, 1865, news of President Abraham Lincoln’s assas­sination reached Philadelphia. The treacher­ousness of the crime created a mix of feel­ings surging from fear and horror to inconsolable grief. A galvanized nation began mourning immediately. Printer cranked out broadside that were posted throughout Philadelphia lamenting the “Martyred Father.”...
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Executive Director’s Message

On Thursday and Friday, May 2-3, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will sponsor the twenty-fifth annual Conference on Black History in York. This conference series brings together scholars, teachers, and students to celebrate and to look critical­ly at the experience of African Americans over the past four centuries. Notable keynote speakers have included K. Leroy Irvis,...
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Minute Books of the State Board of Centennial Managers

Authorized by the General Assembly of Pennsylvania on June 11, 1875, Governor John F. Hartranft appointed the State Board of Centennial Managers to organize a cele­bration in the Keystone State and to also ensure its representation at the International Exhibition of Art, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine – best known as the Centennial International Exhibition –...
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